RPS in The Sentinel Fandom?

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Title: RPS in The Sentinel Fandom?
Creator: post by carodee, plus commenters
Date(s): January 18, 2008
Fandom: The Sentinel
External Links: RPS in The Sentinel Fandom?; archive link
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RPS in The Sentinel Fandom? is a post at ts_talk.

The original poster is carodee.

Some Topics Discussed

Related/Response Posts

Excerpt from the Original Post

I've only been in TS fandom since 2003 and, from various comments and the fact I've never stumbled across it, I assumed the statement that RPS never existed in The Sentinel was true. Now it appears that it did exist but was underground. I think that's a bit of TS fannish history that shouldn't be lost.

ETA: Edited above to remove 'forced to go' underground since I don't actually know what the reason might be.

RPF/RPS makes me uncomfortable but I have to acknowledge that it's a form of fanfic fandom that's huge and here to stay. There's always going to be some kinds of fan fiction written that the majority disapproves strongly of but actively making it go away (rather than a strong disinterest, which is what I think (please correct me if I'm wrong) happened with het in TS) doesn't seem right to me either. If TS RPS did continue on the QT, I find that very interesting and even comforting as an example that fan fiction cannot be stopped. Even if the Internet became unfriendly, fans will always find a way to share their stories. *makes fist of fannish solidarity*

So I guess I'm asking if anyone in TS fandom has personal knowledge which confirms this? I'm not interested in links (if those even exist) to RPS fics nor in debating the morality of RPS (although I expect that'll happen anyway. Wank is eternal.). What I am interested in is simply rescuing a bit of TS fannish history. Did this happen? How did people organize this? Was it a closed circle of friends or was there a known way to get added? Any links to group discussions in the larger fannish community? I find it interesting that it wasn't private email but actual snail mail. Does anybody know why? If you're still in TS fandom, feel free to answer anonymously.

Excerpts from the Comments

[sara merry99]:

Someone asked about TS RPS about a month or so ago on TSstoryfinders and you should have heard the *screech* about it.

But I know there was a rather playful (arguably mean-spirited) series about GM that raised a huge wankstorm. I'm not sure who was involved in that though, I'm pretty sure it was before my time on LJ (I got on LJ in April of 05) or right around when I got here.

Oh, it's clear RPS still isn't welcome in TS. With new fans coming in, I suspect it's only a matter of time. RB and GM are too cute in the bloopers. *g*

I think the person who commented was referring to stuff being written during the show's run when TS was a mega-fandom. Poplash was going strong then (Betty Plotnick was in popslash before TS? The same time? So I wouldn't be surprised if she wrote some), although I don't think LOTRips existed yet. *scratches head* Timelines are not my strong suit....

Yes, it's like a secret fandom within TS fandom. *g* In which case, I really would like to have it at the very least mentioned as part of TS fandom. I'm not fond of invalidating fannish history through invisibility.
[alyburns]: as a writer until something like two years after the show *ended*, hon. And in all reality, TS was never a mega-fandom, but it did reach a zenith thanks to the SOS campaign and from there, it really took off. I'm not saying it wasn't a large fandom, but when you consider the viewership, the network, etc - well, you get my drift. Quite a few authors in 2001 to say 2002 were pushing the envelope in their TS writings (while at the same time starting to drift to other fandoms) so it's certainly possible that RPS was included in the envelope pushing. *grin* But forced underground was the term you used and I can say that wasn't even remotely the case. Especially with the force that was Prospect-L - which pretty much encouraged anything in the form of types of writing.

I started reading TS in early 2002 and Betty posted to 852 during that time, so when I went to her website and saw the popslash I assumed it was an earlier/contemporary fandom.

As for the mega-fandom, I was speaking of solely fanfiction fandom (sorry for the confusion) and I have read that for a time TS zines outstripped all the other fandoms and that multi-media zines tried to include at least one TS fic to feed the demand. That sounds pretty mega to me. *g*

Also, I apologize for the term 'forced underground' which I think is what you're reacting to? I don't mean to imply that there was an organized movement to drive out RPS or even people piling on the odd RPS writer. I wasn't there and clearly you never saw it happening.

Your mention of P-L made me realize I hadn't checked there. I did a search on RPS and there were only 13 posts found -- most of them referring to RPS in other fandoms. Only one poster mentions they've run across TS RPS a couple times (post #17817 - 2003). So there were at least two TS RPS out there before 2003 but it was never discussed on P-L (possibly because it wasn't put where most fans could find it? She does mention it wasn't at 852).
[earth2skye]: Re Garettverse: I haven't looked for it and doubt I will. RPS really doesn't interest me one way or another. I'm definitely part of the majority in TS who frowns upon it. Which is not to say that I'd get all bent out of shape if somebody wrote it or anything, but I guess I have a hard time understanding it. Nuff said, this threat wasn't supposed to be about that and I have absolutely no info for carodee. I was just wondering if you knew more about the people over at fandomwank and how seriously they take themselves and what they write.

The issue goes back to analogies between fanon versus canon. When a story contains the names of Blair and Jim, no one gets hurt if the story deviates from 'canon' which is still understood to be fiction. However, when the names Garett and Richard appear in fiction, you have fanon versus real life stories going around that can interfere with their getting jobs, relationships with family and friends etc. as the stories travel. The National Enquirer has been successfully sued for dramatizing events in the lives of celebrities and damaging them. Who is to know the origin of rumor and innuendo based upon people using the names of celebrities for personal amusement, in porn or whathaveyou.

I really think it is disrespectful to the celebrities and their managers, studios, families etc. to use their real names in fictional stories. There is no way to set limits on what is acceptable and what isn't so such efforts, IMO, don't belong as a part of fandom. What goes on underground is up to the individuals so engaged but I wouldn't be part of any organized effort to make it part of fandom.

I have to say that I stay away from Supernatural fan fic (finally saw the first season DVD, I don't have a TV) because of the RPS stuff. I wasn't a fan of the incest themes anyway but at least that was a fictional sam/dean thing and optional in terms of reading. But I really don't like using the names of real people in fan fic because it ceases to be 'tranformative'. I don't think I have the right to deal in 'tranformative' writing about living people without their consent. We already have the tacit consent of the principals involved with movie and television shows to produce fan fic. However, if RPS becomes large in fandom, fan fic itself may wind up being resisted by TPTB instead of encouraged/tolerated.

Can you imagine GM or RB reacting to their names in stories? Didn't GM tease a lot of people at private UK con about his Blair character always being the one to 'bottom' in slash fan fic? Do you really think he would appreciate it if the name GM appeared in such stories?

Guess I like to see clear lines drawn between reality and fiction. RPS allows for too much blurring of those lines and I don't see it as encouraging creativity, fostering celebrity and studio support for our hobby of fan fic writing and do see it as having the potential to really damage people (authors and their subjects).

I think, to be honest, that the vast majority of people in the world have never heard of fanfic and wouldn't have a clue what it was, where to find it, etc so the damaging factor is tiny.

That goes for RPS, too.

I can see an actor -- any actor -- Googling him/herself, coming across both fic and RPS and getting freaked out (it'd bloody well freak me, I can tell you!) but I know from con reports that nowadays most actors in certain shows are well aware of fic and slash and all the rest of it. They seem to be generally amused/tolerant/indifferent and are too fan-savvy to make a fuss because they're realists.

I'm not sure what you mean here, though:

There is no way to set limits on what is acceptable and what isn't so such efforts, IMO, don't belong as a part of fandom.

There's no way to do that with fic, either. And like it or not, RPS is part of fandom as a whole these days, very much so with the rise of bandom.

Whether it'll ever be an accepted part of the TS fandom is another matter.

in the fandom since '97, there was never any kind of backlash against RPS in TS of the kind that would drive it underground, so to speak. The biggest war in TS history was over DD. But that doesn't mean that there weren't flaps about it - if and when it came up - there are always loud people who will try to stop stuff. I posted my own thoughts on RPS (not for me) awhile back when the wank was about a series of RPS involving Garett (and RB and others). It got a lot of mileage, especially when one individual did a story that showed GM in a very unflattering light. But honestly, that's the only kerfuffle I recall on the subject - although whenever RPF came up - folks would weigh in and the overall consensus was a big fat NO. :) But so what? Like you said, folks are going to do it - they're going to do whatever they want - and loud doesn't stop it. :)

I remember one of the online arranged chats with Garett and RB and all the joking the two did - from everything regarding Garett's hair ("He looks like Art Garfunkle") to RB's kids. At the end, RB closed it down by saying that his son was yelling for dinner and I remember the minute the chat was over, several of us started fantasizing about Garett being there with RB and that led to...well, you get my drift. If any two men could be considered ripe for RPS - it would be those two! LOL! And yes, I'd talk about it, wonder about it, fantasize about it - but for me, I'd never write it and *post* it - not because I think it's *wrong* - I don't anymore - I've learned the broadness of the term - but because I *care* about the two men in question and would not...what's a good word or phrase here? Would not tread on them in such a way? Come to think of it - I wouldn't do it even with actors I don't know. :) It's just wrong for *me* - but you know what? I'd write it for myself. :) I just wouldn't post it for the world to see and family members to stumble upon on the off chance some could be hurt. Some might laugh, but some might not.

Anyway, that's the best I can offer in the way of history. Right now, on senad, as you know, a very polite and thoughtful discussion is taking place on the subject - and it's been a delight to read and watch. I think the fandom has come a long way.
[rosylnsmuse]: If RPS became a common and/or open part of TS fandom, I would wave goodbye (not that I expect to be missed). I think it is an unethical use of a person's identity and that it also has clear precedents indicating it is legally actionable. One can legally criticize the actions of a real person who is famous because famous people are supposed to understand that their actions are executed in public venues by their own choice. However, they still have the right to file for damages done through slander and libel. Saying, 'Hey, I didn't think anyone would ever actually read this, much less think this was real' just doesn't cut it for me. Typecasting is damaging enough for actors based upon their fictional roles alone :-)
[kyuuketsukirui]: I do think that the reaction to celebrity stories or fantasies is vastly different within and without fandom. I'm not sure why it became such a huge taboo in fandom (though I just had a sudden thought, and I wonder if it might not be that many fans feel closer to celebs than ordinary people do, so they are more likely to feel protective of them/project their feelings onto them; the most frequent objections to RPF within fandom are not about its legality, but about how the celebs in question might feel). When I started writing fanfic, I was posting my stuff on fanfiction.net and I saw they had a section for celebrity stories or something along those lines, and I assumed it was all just Mary Sues, in which the author or an obvious stand-in for her meets and falls in love with, I dunno, Justin Timberlake or something, you know? Because that is totally the sort of thing teenage girls fantasise about, and writing it down is not out there at all. Knowing fanfiction.net, the bulk of the stories probably were like that, but now knowing more about fandom, I'm sure some were also slash.

I agree that now RPF, naked photo manips, and paparazzi are considered unavoidable consequences of fame. At least in public, most actors seem to be careful (and occasionally amused) what they say about it. Ten years ago, that wouldn't have been the case. So the writing of TS RPF then would have legal and fannish consequences that it wouldn't today. That's just really interesting to me.

As to whether it would be accepted by TS fandom today... I think the younger fans likely won't have much of a problem with it and the older ones will. So it would end up separate side fandoms for a while.

thinking more of the business end of the industry - many (not all, by any means, but many *grin*) casting agents, producers, directors, etc google actors who are being considered for a role - now I *think* what Roslyn meant was that once it's out there, it spreads and changes and what was once one piece of RPS - soon becomes fact, gossip, fodder for the net and thus the business. It would be very easy for one part of an RPS to be read by an idiot (of which we have far too many) and taken as gospel, spread, and the next thing you know - it's fact.

Which brings us to how much responsibility an author should accept when writing fiction. In my case, I would care what happened to GM or RB because of something I wrote - therefore, no RPS for *me* - but others wouldn't or wouldn't seriously consider the possible ramifications.

I think your last line about being accepted by the TS fandom is an interesting one. :) I don't think of anything as being "accepted" or not - maybe because I know that if it can be conceived, it will be written? ::shrug:: Anyway, interesting thought - I need to mull over the idea of 'acceptance' in fandoms.
[x pixel x]: I think you're right about it just not being big enough to notice. I was neck deep in TS fandom halfway into season2 and never heard a peep about RPS until well after the show ran and even then it was popslash not actor stuff. I will admit being a bit isolated and I will also admit I'm not spectacularly observant either so my opinion comes with a good palmfull of salt.
[ex uniquewo]:

I think the only time TS RPS was really talked about was during the Garettverse kerfuffle others have mentioned. I think there's RPS in every fandom, though. It's more or less developed in each fandom - LOTR is full of RPS; CSI very less so for example - but it's there. And then you've got popslash/bandom i.e. RPS heaven.

I think there is more RPS if the show still is in production and actors promote it a lot. RPS is based on proximity/media coverage. X and Y spend a lot of time together on the set, are photographed together, are invited to cons together, are rumored to be close friends and to go on vacation together, so let's imagine what's really happening in these hotel rooms, trailers, parties...

Did TS & TS actors get this kind of attention at the time it was in production?

your post going in the first place and #1, man, she was rude in answering you and #2 - the girl was what, 22, 23 when TS started up? And if she hasn't been in the fandom for years, I'm betting she was barely there at all - and many stories back then were snailmailed or done on IRC chat - heck, the show came out in March of '96, I was involved in the summer of '97, so unless this particular kerfuffle happened within that first year - and let's face it - that would be odd - I have to say again that until the recent kerfuffle - it wasn't a major issue in the fandom, hon....

Well, you asked if RPS in TS had 'been forced underground' based on the throw-away remark of one person who admits to not having been in the fandom for *years* (and BTW: you're WAY more understanding than I am and more forgiving too! LOL!) and I've been in it *almost* from the beginning ::shrugs::

I would also wonder if the mainstream doesn't think something was a major issue - if that then isn't representative of the fandom? Thus if a few thought it *was* an issue - is that something that should be worried about with regards to the history of a fandom? After all - another huge kerfuffle occurred when an author wrote one of the first "Blair cut his hair" stories and at least one fan was so upset, she requested that there be warnings for it *grin* Now *that* is still being talked about, but RPS? Nope.

How 'bout the famous Rob Lowe "Phantom Hand" essay? Still talked about, but RPS? Nope.

Domestic Discipline? Yep. RPS? Nope.

We've had our fair share of major blowups but none of them have been about RPS until last year, hon. :)

Ah, the infamous Blair Hair warning. You come into a new fandom and they have all sorts of strange customs that make you blink. I think of it as part of TS's charm. ;-)

I would also wonder if the mainstream doesn't think something was a major issue - if that then isn't representative of the fandom? Thus if a few thought it *was* an issue - is that something that should be worried about with regards to the history of a fandom?

Well, on the surface that seems logical. The mainstream is representative of what most people like and do. The problem comes when you assume that invalidates a subculture's right to exist and/or be remembered. I'm not saying to rewrite TS fannish history to say RPS existed and the mainstream embraced/condoned it, because that would be, you know, inaccurate. *g* But to know that there was a pocket of RPSers doing their thing in TS can exist side by side with what the mainstream was doing. That's all I'm saying.

I know! It's amazing - [the Blair Hair Warning] comes up everywhere the 'warning' discussion comes up! LOL!

BTW: I wrote the story that started the kerfuffle. ::preens:: But then, I was also the Rob Lowe "Phantom Hand" author [1]. too ::wince:: But hey, ya gotta be famous for something, at least, that's what my friend, the mass murderer is always saying. *grin*
[mazal]: From a strictly First Amendment point of view, I cannot condemn RPS completely. And, truth to tell, I've had RPS-like thoughts or even fantasies in other fandoms. But I doubt I would discuss any details with even the closest of fan-friends, let alone write it, let alone post it. I agree with all those who mention the issues of respect, psychological damage and even career damage that could, potentially, ensue. I liken it to not burning CDs of music; I can't claim I've never done it, but I try not to, and especially with CDs of musicians I have met. I am privileged to have met both GM and RB and would never dream of doing anything that could hurt either of them.

Twelve years ago it wasn't that RPF/RPS was forced underground but that it never got a chance to get its head above ground. I suspect drawer-RPF/S was going on in all fandoms but it took the wave of interest in popslash (which could only be RP) to bring the RP-fans out of the closet among fans in this corner of fandom.

I believe that wrestling and rock/band RPF/S developed separately, those fans don't trace their fan history through Trek and all those old buddy shows and didn't inherit the prohibition on RPF/S.

Although I was around and active in TS fandom in the late nineties I never saw a peep of RPS. It was very effectively underground.

but I would say that in general the TS fandom is less open to RPS than some, still today.

I think the reason might be the fact that SO many fans have met RB and GM and there may be a strong sense of protectiveness as a result now. Both men have been very accessible throughout the years, including during the filming (what, two, three cons?) so that might have a lot to do with it. Also, most fans were very aware of Garett's difficulties with a few fans, his restraining orders, etc. so that may also be responsible for the extra feelings of protectiveness? ...

Now this is weird because I think LotR RPSF is for the same reason! LOL! It went on for years what with the making of all three films and all the publicity and obvious friendship of the actors. They goofed off as much as RB and GM - kissing in public, telling stories and always being seen together - so again, it seemed A) a natural for RPSF and B) bringing out the protectiveness of some of the fans - BUT the TS fans had more real interaction - up close and personal - than the LotR fans, plus the whole stalker thing, so their protectiveness is more pronounced - if that makes sense?

it never got a chance to get its head above ground.

Ha, yes, I see what you're saying. That it was the attitude of the times rather than any particular fandom that kept it hidden. Which certainly jibes with what Aly's saying.

The interest in RPF/S is so strong that clearly people have been doing it all along, so why not TS fan as well? The comment I saw suggested that it wasn't drawer fic; people were exchanging it and that lifts it from private drawer fic to distributed fanfiction (no matter how small the number of readers).

I know I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it than necessary but it intrigues me. A band of intrepid fan writers manage to overcome social disapproval to find like-minded souls and share their stories. It's action; it's angst; it's intrigue. It may not have happened that way at all. Maaaaaybe it did. *g*

Whatever it is, it's something that contradicts what I know of my fandom's known history, so it niggles.


  1. Alyburns was not the author of the essay, but was the author of the story the essay was in response to. The Zombie Hand of Rob Lowe was a line by line analysis of Alyjude's fic "Restrained Sex"